Amsterdam

Cologne

Rüdesheim

Mainz

Wertheim

Rothenburg

Nuremburg

Regensburg

Passau, Germany

Melk and Dürnstein, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Bratislava, Slovakia

Budapest, Hungary

European River Boat Cruise - September 2007

In August and September of 2007, Kathy and I took a river boat trip from Amsterdam to Budapest - a trip of over 1,100 miles. We were on the Rhine River, Main River, Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, and the Danube River. Among other places, we visited Cologne, Rudesheim, Mainz, Wertheim, Rothenburg, Nuremberg, Regensburg and Passau in Germany. We also stopped in Melk and Vienna in Austria, Bratislava, Slovakia and Budapest, Hungary. The pictures that are in the galleries are the same ones that I used in the book that I made after the trip.

Some of fondest memories of the trip were the castles above the rivers, the Gutenberg Museum, hearing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-minor played on the largest organ in Europe, seeing the works of Gustav Klimt, hearing a Mozart and Strauss concert in Vienna and being in the small medieval towns in Germany.

The things that kept the trip from being an ideal vacation included: too much cruising during the day (on a boat with small cabins and limited public places), not having access to the sun deck on some days because of low bridges (the awning was down and most chairs were removed), cooler weather than we expected and uneven quality of the food.

If you want to read the day by day details of the trip, you can download the journal that I kept while we were there.

During the two and a half week trip we visited:

  • Amsterdam.
    We spent four days in Amsterdam before heading down river for Cologne. We especially enjoyed our trip to the flower auction, the cheese market and the architecture of Michel de Klerk. And of course the canals are always interesting.

  • Cologne.
    After exploring Amsterdam for four days, we headed down a canal and into the Rhine on our way towards Cologne. We toured the cathedral in Cologne. It is the tallest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe.

  • Rüdesheim.
    After Cologne, we headed for Rüdesheim, seeing many castles along the way. In Rüdesheim we wandered the narrow streets and took a cable car to the top of the nearby mountain (tall hill).

  • Mainz.
    Next it was on to Mainz. We toured the town (reconstructed after WW II) and the Guttenberg museum. Afterward we turned into the Main river and had a glass blowing demonstration in the afternoon. The awning on the sun deck was lowered because we would be going under low bridges on the Main-Danube canal.

  • Wertheim.
    In Wertheim we explored the quaint town center with its offset houses and lovely rose gardens. I bought a vase from the son of the glassblower who had given the demonstration the day before. Then we cruised on down the Main river and went through several more locks.

  • Rothenburg.
    We boarded busses for the trip to Rothenburg where we had a typical German lunch (bratwurst, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes) in a local restaurant. Then we walked into the center of this medieval city. One of the stone protection walls was from the 1100s.

  • Nuremburg.
    The next morning we went under some very low bridges and the captain allowed us to be on top to watch. It was a little scary when we cleared by only a few inches. After lunch we had a bus tour to see the parade grounds where the Nazi troops assembled and the Palace of Justice where the Nuremburg trials were held. Then we saw much more of the medieval areas by walking down from the castle to the center of town where there was a gold painted fountain.

  • Regensburg.
    The city of Regensburg is almost 2000 years old - founded by the Romans as the northern boundary of their empire. There is a 900 year old stone bridge over the Danube. We had a walking tour of the city (where the Pope had been the year before). The cathedral here is very much like the one in Cologne, only slightly smaller. We also went into the Rococo Collegiate Church of Our Lady, which has an interesting white interior. In the evening, back on the boat, there was local Bavarian dancing which, turned out to be somewhat boring.

  • Passau, Germany.
    We had a walking tour of Passau (in the rain) and of St. Stephan's cathedral. The cathedral dates from 1688 and is one of the largest Baroque cathedrals in Europe. The organ is the largest pipe organ in Europe with more than 17,000 pipes. At noon we heard an organ recital where one of the pieces played was Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-minor. It was very impressive.

    After lunch we set sail for Linz, Austria. The weather cleared for a while. We had sun and took pictures from the sun deck. At 5:30 we had a wine tasting event that was fun and interesting.

  • Melk and Dürnstein, Austria.
    In the morning on the way to Melk, we cruised the Danube and took pictures with mist rising over the water. Then there was a lecture on the European Union. At 10:30 we had "früschoppen", German specialties (sausages, pretzels, sauerkraut) and beer. When we got to Melk we toured Melk Abbey. The abbey started out as the residence of the ruling Babenberg family. Later it became a Benedictine monastery in 1089, founded by Leopold II. Stift Melk is one of Europe's great cultural heritage sites. The church inside the Abbey is magnificent.

    In the afternoon we cruised the Wachau Valley. In the late afternoon we arrived at Dürnstein. After dinner, we walked into town and explored. We were really sorry that we had not been here in the daytime to enjoy this beautiful town.

  • Vienna, Austria.
    Our bus tour of Vienna took us past many palaces and impressive buildings along the ring road. Most of these were commissioned by Kaiser Franz Joseph I in the second half of the nineteenth century. Next we went on a tour of Belvedere Palace, which is now a museum. We saw a lot of original paintings by Gustav Klimt, including "The Kiss", one of Kathy's favorites. In the gift shop we bought some prints and coasters of Klimt's work. Next we explored St. Stephen's Cathedral on our own. The Pope had been here the previous Sunday (September 9th). I bought a candle with the Pope's image on it for Audrey. The candles were in commemoration of the Pope's visit. We rounded out our morning in Vienna with a visit to the Sacher Hotel; we had a Sacher Torte at the Sacher Café.

    In the evening we came back into the city for a concert. This is a concert that is put on for tourists, not the Vienna Philharmonic. But it was quite good. The Orchestra consisted of a piano, bass, cello, viola, 3 violins, an oboe and a flute. The first half of the program was all Mozart, including "Eine Kline Nacht Music". There was also ballet and opera. The second half was all Strauss - again including ballet and opera.

  • Bratislava, Slovakia.
    When we visited Bratislava, the things that interested me the most were the very modern suspension bridges across the Danube - so the bridges are the things that I took pictures of. After spending the morning in Bratislava we set sail for Budapest.

  • Budapest, Hungary.
    At about 10:00 PM we sailed into Budapest; it was a magnificent sight with all of the buildings and monuments lit up. Later another boat rafted up to us and blocked our view.

    At 9:00 AM we went on a city tour (on busses) around both Buda and Pest. First in Pest we went to Heroes' Square and took pictures of the statues. Then we crossed the bridge to Buda and went up the hill to the castle complex and looked across the river to the parliament buildings. The Matthias Church is also on the hill. Though not on the tour, Kathy and I attached ourselves to a tour group that was going in (we didn't have Hungarian Florints for the admission). The inside was magnificent and very different from the other churches that we had visited. You could see the eastern influence in the muted designs on the walls. Kathy bought a reproduction of one of the paintings (an icon on wood).

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C. Brandon Jones
email: Brandon "at" cbjones.info
updated November 27, 2007